Leon Friedman is the Joseph Kushner Special Professor of Civil Liberties Law at Hofstra Law School, teaching constitutional law and copyright. He is also a practicing lawyer, specializing in civil rights, First Amendment and intellectual property. He is a graduate of Harvard College and of the Harvard Law School. He served as staff attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union.
Friedman has written or edited over a dozen books and has published over 100 articles in various law journals, newspapers and magazines. Among his works are The Justices of the United States Supreme Court: Their Lives and Major Decisions, 4th edition (Facts on File, 2013).
The original edition of this work won the Scribes Award in 1970 as the best book on a legal subject published that year. Other books include The Supreme Court Confronts Abortion, Southern Justice, The Civil Rights Reader, Brown v. Board of Education, Obscenity, The Wise Minority, Unquestioning Obedience to the President (with Burt Neuborne) and Disorder in the Court (with Norman Dorsen).
He has written or worked on briefs for the United States Supreme Court in many important cases dealing with the First Amendment (Simon & Schuster v. Members of the New York State Crime Victims Board, Gentile v. State Bar of Nevada, Grove Press v. Maryland Board of Censors, Carroll v. Princess Anne County) copyright (Harper & Row, Publishers, Inc. v. Nation Enterprises, Campbell v. Acuff-Rose Music ) civil rights, employment discrimination, criminal procedure, and abuse of government power.
He also practices in the area of copyright, employment discrimination and civil rights. He has represented a number of publishers, including Farrar, Straus & Giroux, Arcade Publishers, Chelsea House Publishers, as well as many authors including I. B. Singer, Susan Sontag, John McPhee, Stephen Spender, Hunter Thompson, Oscar Hijuelos, as well as the estates of Edith Wharton, T.S. Eliot. C.S. Forester and Daphne du Maurier. Among his other clients have been James Brown, the Isley Brothers and Kathleen Turner. He is the general counsel for PEN American Center and is a former member of the Board of Directors of the New York Civil Liberties Union. He also was the lawyer for Rubin “Hurricane” Carter, securing a writ of habeas corpus overturning his conviction for murder in New Jersey. The case was the basis for the film The Hurricane featuring Denzel Washington. Mr. Friedman actions were featured in the film.